Police are hunting burglars who left a trail of "absolute devastation" and caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Dovercourt Discount Store manager Peter Chapman

Between £20,000 and £50,000 of damage was caused when a ceiling collapsed into a shop after burglars left taps running in the flat above.

Shopkeepers arrived at the Dovercourt Discount Store, in Main Road, to find stock ruined, the ceiling damaged and a water-logged floor.

Det Con Julie Bartlett, of Harwich CID, said burglars broke into the flat above the store and stole paint, which they took outside and daubed across windows and doors at nearby sheltered accommodation in Emily May Court.

They then returned to the empty flat, which was being renovated, blocked every sink and left the taps running.

Water seeped through the floor, causing it to collapse on to electrical equipment underneath.

Initial estimates are that the incident caused between £20,000 and £50,000 damage.

The incident is thought to have happened after the store closed at 5.30pm on Monday.

Manager Peter Chapman said: "I got in to find a scene of absolute devastation."

The store reopened yesterday afternoon and Mr Chapman thanked everyone who had pitched in to clear up the mess.

Anyone with information should contact Harwich CID on 01255 241312 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111

Published Thursday, March 21, 2002